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Budget Shortfall At VTC Is $2.5M

Randolph — Vermont Technical College is looking at a budget shortfall of $2.5 million.

The financial bombshell was dropped Thursday during the monthly meeting of the Vermont State Colleges Board of Trustees by Dan Smith, who at the meeting was appointed interim president for VTC.

Smith pointed to the school having approximately 100 fewer students than projected as a primary driver behind the budget shortfall, and acknowledged he had a lot of work ahead of him.

“There are many steps we’re going to take and many choices we’re going to look at as we correct the financial course of the ship,” said Smith, who, along with Vermont State Colleges CFO Tom Robbins, will be spending the next month drafting a budget for VTC.

The Board of Trustees is expected to take up the budget for VTC, as well as the other institutions in the state college system, at its upcoming meeting May 22. The college’s overall budget has been roughly $36 million.

Smith declined to specifically address what cuts — if any — will be made to the budget, and declined to say whether cuts might take the form of job cuts and layoffs.

However, Smith said the school’s budget woes will not affect plans for a joint venture between VTC and the Community College of Vermont to move into an 18,000-square-foot space in Brattleboro, where VTC will house part of its nursing program.

Smith was thrust into the leadership role March 25, when it was announced that then-President Philip Conroy would be on paid administrative leave until his retirement Nov. 15. Citing personnel reasons, officials have declined to discuss the departure of Conroy, who became VTC’s president in April 2011.

Smith was named acting president until his appointment Thursday to interim by the Board of Trustees, which took the recommendation from Tim Donovan, chancellor for Vermont State Colleges.

“Dan Smith brings a high degree of strategic leadership, a strong background in economic development and a commitment to working with the Vermont Tech community,” Donovan said. “I’m confident in his abilities to help the college innovate while maintaining its applied education roots.”

Smith is making the move to interim president — appointed through June 30, 2015 — after being director of community relations and public policy at Vermont State Colleges, a position he had held since 2010. A native of Middlesex, Vt., and a graduate of University of Virginia and the UVA School of Law, Smith brings to VTC a background of economic development and strategy.

Following Smith’s appointment, Gary Moore, chairman of the Board of Trustees, said Smith was the right person to turn around VTC’s finances.

“I truly believe that we can stabilize VTC and get it moving forward so long as we all work together. It will take innovative leadership, strong financial management and a commitment by the board and the college to make hard, yet strategic decisions,” Moore, a Bradford, Vt., resident, said. “The board believes that Dan Smith is the right choice to lead the institution in the coming year.”